Fujifilm's FinePix A310 offers 3-megapixel resolution and a 3X zoom lens to folks looking for a snapshot camera that they can take anywhere. We liked the A310's style and fairly compact size, but lackluster performance and mediocre images dampened our enthusiasm.
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You select shooting and playback modes with the dial on the back of the camera.
Rounded contours and a silver finish give the A310 an attractive look, and its plastic body is pocketable at a reasonably svelte 7.1 ounces with batteries and media. The camera is easy to grip securely, and its construction feels tight and solid. We were less impressed with the somewhat scattershot placement of controls, especially the mode dial on the back of the body. We often accidentally rotated it while taking the camera out of bags and putting it back in.
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The four-way controller governs various functions. The up and down arrows operate the zoom, the right and left arrows select macro mode and flash settings, and all the buttons provide menu navigation.
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The Display button activates the LCD's grid marks to help you with composition. The F key gives you access to picture-quality, ISO, and color settings.
Like other recent FinePix models, the A310 splits menu access between two keys. This system combines with the awkward control placement to make navigation mildly inefficient, though the menus themselves are reasonably well labeled and responsive. You surf them with a four-way controller, whose up and down arrows do double duty as the zoom toggle.
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The A310 saves images on xD-Picture Card media.
The A310 is designed for carefree snapshooting, not serious photography. The 3X zoom lens opens to a maximum aperture of f/2.8 to f/4.8, which is about average for this class of camera. Its 38mm-to-114mm (35mm-camera equivalent) focal-length range offers you scant wide-angle capability.
Exposure options include programmed auto and four scene modes. The automatic white balance is augmented by six presets, but unfortunately, there is no custom selection. You can apply exposure compensation to plus 1.5EV or minus 2.1EV, although that feature is buried in the menus. You can set the CCD's sensitivity from ISO 200 to ISO 800, a nice capability, although resolution is limited to 1,280x960 pixels (1 megapixel) at ISO 800. Also notable is a dual-mode continuous-shooting function, which can capture four frames in slightly more than a second or snap up to 25 shots and save the last four taken before you released the shutter button.
The A310 saves stills to an xD-Picture Card. They can be in JPEG format only, and the compression level is fixed. Four resolutions, including an interpolated 6-megapixel option, are available. The Chrome setting boosts contrast and color saturation, but no other image parameters are adjustable. In movie mode, you can capture silent, 120-second 320x240 MJPEG video clips or hook up the camera to a PC for a videoconference (you'll need your own mike). An optional cradle simplifies the transfer of pictures and footage to a computer.
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One charge of two nickel-metal-hydride AAs gave us 640 pictures, more than half of them with the flash. However, the low-battery icon didn't do a very good job of warning us about depletion. The alert popped up just a few shots before the camera conked out.
The A310 delivered adequate but not especially impressive performance. The lens zoomed relatively smoothly and quietly, and we were able to control its position with fair precision. The autofocus system was responsive in good light but often failed to lock on a subject in dim conditions, and there's no focus lamp to help in those cases.